Mortgage demand experienced a notable surge, reaching the highest level in five weeks, following a decline in interest rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index reported a 2.8% increase in demand, marking the second consecutive week of gains.
After a significant drop in the preceding week, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained steady at 7.61%, with conforming loan balances of $726,200 or less. Points decreased slightly to 0.67 from 0.69, including the origination fee, for loans with a 20% down payment.
Applications for refinancing a home loan saw a 2% increase for the week, standing 7% higher than the same week last year. However, the motivation for refinancing might be limited, as current mortgage rates do not differ significantly from those in November of the previous year when many borrowers secured historically low rates during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, applications for a mortgage to purchase a home experienced a 3% uptick from the previous week. Despite this increase, they remained 12% lower than the same week a year ago. Lower interest rates provided some relief, but challenges persist due to continually rising home prices and a limited housing supply.
Challenges for Homebuyers
According to Joel Kan, MBA's Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, both purchase and refinance applications reached their highest weekly pace in five weeks but still linger at notably low levels. The current mortgage rates, although slightly down, pose challenges for prospective homebuyers and existing homeowners.
While mortgage rates moved lower in the reported week, triggered by a bond market rally following a lower-than-expected monthly inflation report, the impact on overall affordability remains a concern.
The recent uptick in mortgage demand reflects a response to lower interest rates, yet challenges persist in the housing market. Affordability concerns, coupled with rising home prices and limited inventory, continue to shape the landscape for both potential homebuyers and those looking to refinance.